Valaris jack-up rig’s gig with Aramco suspended

Offshore drilling contractor Valaris has confirmed the receipt of a suspension for one of its 19 contracted rigs working for Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s oil and gas giant. This rig is leased under a bareboat charter agreement to ARO Drilling, a 50/50 joint venture between Valaris and the Saudi energy heavyweight.

Valaris 143 jack-up rig; Source: Valaris

According to Valaris, its joint venture in Saudi Arabia got a notice of suspension from Aramco for the Valaris 143 jack-up rig, covering a period of up to twelve months. The rig’s contract was previously slated to end in December 2024. The 2011-built rig, which can accommodate 120 people, can operate in water depths of 350 ft. The jack-up’s maximum drilling depth is 35,000 ft.

Currently, ARO is engaged in discussions with the Saudi player to determine the effective date of the suspension. Valaris explains that its Saudi Arabian joint venture will have the right to terminate the drilling contract with Aramco during the suspension period.

This announcement comes after Aramco received a directive from Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Energy in January 2024 to maintain its maximum sustainable capacity (MSC) at 12 million barrels per day (MMBD). As a result, the company was told not to continue with its plans to raise MSC to 13 MMBD. 

Recently, another offshore drilling player, Shelf Drilling, received a suspension of operations for four jack-up rigs in the Middle East.

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The oil and gas industry’s rumor mill has been in overdrive since the notice was given, with all signs pointing toward Aramco, even though the name of the company that handed out the suspension was not disclosed.